Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

29485885Blurb

A mysterious seaman hides at a country inn; cut-throats raid a sleepy English village; suddenly, young Jim Hawkins becomes the owner of a map leading to a lost tropical island and a fortune in stolen gold. Three adventurers–Jim, Squire Trelawney, and Dr. Livesey–set out to find the treasure. — But they trust the one they should most fear, Long John Silver. Charming, brave, ruthless, murderous, Silver fills the squire’s ship with pirates. And on the desolate, fever-infested island, the quest for gold becomes a deadly war of hide and seek. Desperate defenders against merciless killers battling over a cursed treasure won with blood, buried with blood, sought with blood. Incredible wealth that Jim and his friends can only claim…

My Perspective

Treasure Island is the story of how Jim Hawkins came to be in possession of a treasure map and the journey and adventure he went on with Doctor Livesey and Squire Trelawney to acquire it.

I’m really in the mood for adventure stories at the moment so this is exactly what I felt like reading.

I really liked Jim. He was an easygoing young man, eager to please, hardworking, quick thinking and he had a lot of courage. Doctor Livesey was also an easy character to like whether Squire Trelawney I found a bit too freely spoken and over confident. John Silver was friendly and very easy to like, which of course made me suspicious. The rest of the crew were typical pirates, or “buccaneers”, self interested, not too smart, violent and drunk on rum all the time.

The story was very interesting and well paced, keeping you on your toes and turning the pages quickly. I did find some of the language hard to understand at times however it added to the feel of the story so I wouldn’t change it.

Overall it was a really enjoyable story, well written and full of adventure. I would definitely recommend it if you like classics, adventure stories or historical fiction.

October Baby by Eric Wilson and Theresa Preston

14978982Blurb

Not long after Hannah, a college student, experiences increasing anxiety and a sudden collapse, all signs point to the surprising circumstances of her birth. Hannah soon learns from her parents that she was adopted and is the survivor of a failed abortion attempt.

Bewildered, angry, and confused, she turns to her oldest friend, Jason, for support. Encouraged by his adventurous spirit, Hannah joins his friends on a road trip, embarking on a journey to discover her hidden past and find hope for the unknown future.

Along the way, Hannah finds that every life is beautiful, and that life itself can be so much more than what we might have planned.

Based on the popular movie of the same name, October Baby brings to life powerful themes of hope, love, forgiveness, and redemption.

My Perspective

October Baby is the novel version of the movie, October Baby, which is about a college student named Hannah who collapses on stage during a performance due to medical issues related to her birth. Her world as she knows it falls apart with the knowledge of what really happened when she was born – that she was the product of a failed abortion and her parents adopted her. She joins a group of friends on their Spring Break trip to visit the place where she was born – and hopefully find some answers.

Last year we watched the movie version of October Baby at the youth group we run. The theme for the term was forgiveness and this story really explored that concept well. I was curious to read the novel version of it especially if any of our youth wanted to read it too.

At first I found it hard to get into the book as it started out when Hannah was a child and i found the reading a bit immature. I had to remind myself that I am not the target audience for the book and so i got into a bit more plus Hannah soon became a college student so things matured.

Hannah is a likeable and realistic character. She bugged me a little bit because she reminded me of myself with the acting – a little bit up herself. Plus I couldn’t get over how much she let her parents dictate her life even though she was an adult. I can understand she was living under their roof so it was their rules etc. but I felt like she acted like a young teenager! I liked Jason except I couldn’t really understand his relationship with Alanna. I found it hard to like her Dad because he was so controlling. I understood he wanted the best for her however he went about things all the wrong way! I really liked her mother.

The story really explores the concept of what abortion looks like when it fails and how the product of that is much more than just a fetus. I’d rather not get into a political debate about abortion in a book review however I think this book is a great way to start a discussion.

The story has a small element of Christianity throughout however it’s very subtle and doesn’t shove any agendas in your face. It mainly just focuses on the power of forgiveness, which I think is great.

The story flowed fairly well and although it was a bit sappy in places, it was an enjoyable read.

I would definitely recommend this book, especially to those who like a fairly lighthearted book with deep messages and themes.

Genesis: The Story Of Apollo 8, The First Manned Flight To Another World by Robert Zimmerman

1110425Blurb

It was NASA’s most dangerous space mission. The chances of success were fifty-fifty. And three men would dare to fly farther and faster than ever before.

The year was 1968. Guided by a computer less powerful than today’s handheld calculators, NASA sent the three astronauts of Apollo 8 on the most ambitious space flight in history. Here is the dramatic account of the mission that forever broke human beings’ bond to earth… of the first time that a manned spacecraft would escape earth’s orbit and travel to the moon… of the engineering triumph that sent the Apollo 8 capsule 240,000 miles from earth. From Washington to Vietnam, Robert Zimmerman captures the political, social, and personal forces that pushed Commander Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders to the forefront of space exploration, and made Apollo 8 a true turning point in the history of planet earth.

My Perspective

Genesis: The Story Of Apollo 8, The First Manned Flight To Another World by Robert Zimmerman is the novelised true story of the first manned mission to the moon. It describes to us both the mission itself as well as the lives of each of the three astronauts who flew: Commander Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders.

A customer gave us this book to read. As Kel was already halfway through another book, I decided to read it first. Having just finished watching “From the Earth to the Moon” series (which was lent to us by the very same customer), I was familiar with the mission however the book gave a lot more insight and background than the TV series ever could.

The topic of space has always intrigued me and Sci-Fi is one of my favourite genres. I grew up watching most of the Star Trek series as well as reading Star Trek novels so this kind of book was right up my alley.

I found it was a little bit slow to start off with and it jumped around a bit, recapping other events that seemed unrelated to the Apollo 8 mission. It wasn’t until about halfway through that it picked up and I couldn’t put it down. Towards the end you can see how everything is tied together and I can see the point of everything that was written however it did seem a little disjointed at the beginning.

I enjoyed getting to know the three astronauts better and their history, and how they came to be on Apollo 8.

There was a lot of political insight in the book and it was quite disheartening to read about some of it and how society, although seeming to be searching for freedom, is in its quest practically doing the opposite.

Overall I enjoyed the book and I learnt more about a topic I enjoy. I would definitely recommend this book to those who like either Sci-Fi or history (or both!).

2016 In Review

Here are some books that i read in 2016 that i didn’t review. I definitely recommend reading them, especially the first book – it’s amazing! I wish I’d read it before having a baby because it would have taken a lot of the pressure off and helped me to trust myself a lot more.

Your Cherished Baby by Dr Howard Chilton

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‘This book lays out the nuts and bolts of the first two years of your child’s life. What your baby learns now about love, relationships and their value in the world will last them a lifetime.’

According to Dr Howard Chilton, one of Australia’s most respected baby doctors, you cannot give your baby too much love. Drawing on his 35 years as a baby physician, Dr Chilton explains the science that proves what many of us instinctively know: the way we feed, hold, play with and settle our babies is what determines the kind of adults they will become. Dr Chilton challenges the current fashions of strict routines and controlled crying, and offers instead practical and caring methods that keep babies and their mothers calm and connected. With clarity and wisdom he outlines:

* the neurological processes of both baby and mother in the early bonding periods
* the reasons and solutions for colic and other excessive crying
* humane alternatives to controlled crying as a method for getting your baby to sleep
* why you need to care for yourself so as to best care for your baby, and what fathers can do to help
a feeding approach that will develop your child’s palate and guard against obesity later in life
* simple discipline techniques to help your toddler learn how to negotiate his or her world.

Accessible, authoritative and compassionate, Your Cherished Baby is the essential guide to giving your child the best possible start in life.

The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook

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Blurb

Alice B. Toklas was Gertrude Stein’s life partner. This is Toklas’s rich mixture of menus and memories of meals shared with such famous friends as Wilder, Picasso, and Hemingway.

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

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Blurb

Taken from the poverty of her parents’ home in Portsmouth, Fanny Price is brought up with her rich cousins at Mansfield Park, acutely aware of her humble rank and with her cousin Edmund as her sole ally. During her uncle’s absence in Antigua, the Crawford’s arrive in the neighborhood bringing with them the glamour of London life and a reckless taste for flirtation. Mansfield Park is considered Jane Austen’s first mature work and, with its quiet heroine and subtle examination of social position and moral integrity, one of her most profound.

My Perspective

I’m pretty proud to say that I’ve now read all of Jane Austen’s major novels, Mansfield Park being the last one. I’m a pretty huge Jane Austen fan so i think it’s only proper that i am acquainted with all of her works!

Mansfield Park follows the early life of Fanny Price, who at a young age is sent to live at Mansfield Park with her wealthy uncle, aunt and cousins, as an act of charity towards her larger, poorer family. Fanny is extremely shy and quiet however she soon adapts with the support of her elder cousin, Edmund. However with the arrival of the Crawford’s into the neighbourhood, much drama and scandal ensues with Fanny’s heart caught in the middle.

The story is well written with plenty of rich descriptions and character development. It is slower paced with a definite slow build up of tension and climax.

I’m not sure what i thought of Fanny. In some ways i really liked her, however her frail temperament really irritated me. I appreciated how reserved and thoughtful she was, especially in comparison with the other female characters. Most of the other characters annoyed me or i was indifferent towards. I really wanted to love Edmund however i could only just like him (and half the time i thought he was an idiot for being so blind). To be honest i was a little disappointed in the characters. It wasn’t that they weren’t well written – i just couldn’t grab hold of them and endear them like the characters in most of Jane’s other novels.

I also found the story ended very quickly and a bit oddly – it was wrapped up like an epilogue. I found this surprising because the novel itself was quite slow paced and nothing happened quickly.

Overall it was still a great novel, the intricacies of English society well explored. I would probably say it’s my least favourite Jane Austen novel though so if you’re going to start reading Jane Austen, maybe don’t start with this one.

 

 

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle by The Countess of Carnarvon

15946109Blurb

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey tells the story behind Highclere Castle, the real-life inspiration and setting for Julian Fellowes’ award-winning drama, and the life of one of its most famous inhabitants, Lady Almina, the 5th Countess of Carnarvon.

Almina expected a life of sumptuous banquets and expensive dresses when she married the Earl of Carnarvon at 19. But when the First World War broke out, life at Highclere changed forever and Almina and her staff were forced to draw on their deepest reserves of courage.

Drawing on a rich store of materials from the archives at Highclere, the current Lady Carnarvon has written a remarkable and transporting tale of a lost time.

My Perspective

This is the seventeenth book I read from my post Credit Where Credit’s Due. I read about  Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle by The Countess of Carnarvon from Cely at Running Off The Reese’s. Unfortunately you can’t read her thoughts on the book anymore as her blog was hacked and her posts deleted 😦

The book follows the true story of Almina Carnarvon nee Wombell from when she became the Countess of Carnarvon by marriage to the 5th Earl of Carnarvon, to his death in May 1923. It is written by the current Countess of Carnarvon from diaries and letters held in the archives of Highclere.

The story is basically a biography of the life of Lady Almina while she was Countess of Carnarvon. She was a force of nature and I really admire and respect her drive, especially during the war and the effort she went to with her hospitals.

I found it really interesting and I actually came away with a lot more respect for the upper classes of English society in those days. Not only their hard work during the war however the way that even though they were privileged and spent excessive amounts of money – nothing was wasted! I loved reading about the surrounding village people lining up to collect the drippings from one of the extravagant parties Lady Alimna held.

It was also interesting to read about the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb. I had no idea about the story behind it.

Reading about the servants and the way it all worked “downstairs” was super fascinating and gave a lot of insight to the culture of the large houses and estates back then.

Overall I would definitely recommend this book if you like historical novels, both fiction and non fiction.

Prodigy of Rainbow Tower (Legends of Windemere Book 2) by Charles E. Yallowitz

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Blurb

Luke Callindor and his friends are about to learn that the life of an adventurer can be brutally unforgiving.

Hungering for another adventure, Luke agrees to escort the heir of Serab along the L’dandrin River and into the safety of Gods’ Voice. A deadly gauntlet of cunning traps and savage creatures lay before the young warrior and his companions. Lacking the powerful magic needed to combat his enemies, Luke’s survival and victory may be in the hands of his newest ally. That’s if the temperamental Nyx doesn’t set him on fire first.

Luke will bravely face everything that is thrown at him, but how can he defend himself when he’s ignorant of the truth behind his mission?

My Perspective

I’ve been meaning to read this book pretty much straight after I read the first book in the series, Beginning Of A Hero (Legends of Windemere Book 1) by Charles E. Yallowitz. I bought it ages ago however I don’t have a Kindle so I have to read it on the computer, which I find annoying. Anyway a few months ago I was lying in bed holding my sick, (then) eight month old son who was only sleeping if he was in my arms, and all that was in reach was my phone. I’d already been through heaps of emails and it was doing my head in, I’m really quite sick of social media at the moment, what I felt like was digging into a really great fantasy book. Aha! I thought to myself. I will download the Kindle app onto my iPhone.

I usually wouldn’t be interested in reading on my phone because it’s small and I’m not a fan of reading on a backlit screen however it was the best choice I had! So I go to download the Kindle app and lo and behold, my iPhone 4 is too old to support the latest version. Bugger. I researched how I could get around it however it requires your computer (you download the app through iTunes and then when you go to download it on your iPhone as you’ve already “bought” it, it asks if you want to download an older version that is compatible with your iPhone. Very sneaky). Anyway after he woke up, I got onto the computer and worked my magic and soon I had the Kindle app on my iPhone with this book ready to read in preparation for his next sleep.

Prodigy of Rainbow Tower follows Luke and his new friends; Nimby, Fritz, Aedyn and Fizzle as they make their way to the city of Gaia to collect the apprentice of Rainbow Tower and board the River Scout to protect Kellia, heir of Duke Solomon on her journey home to Gods’ Voice. However now Luke has major enemies – not just the Lich but his demon servant, the Hellfire Elf who has sworn revenge. Although Luke and his friends expect trouble on their journey, little do they realise just how much trouble they will get – and that those two aren’t the only enemies that they are up against.

As it has been two years since I read Beginning Of A Hero, I really should have read it again to refresh my memory as I vaguely remember some details but it’s very hazy and I was a little bit lost with some things. Surprisingly the author doesn’t waste any time doing the “big recap” that so many books do where they basically give a summary of the previous book at the beginning of the next book. I found this both good and bad. It’s great because if you’ve just read the previous book, it really is a waste of time and it’s almost like it’s bringing up to speed any readers who haven’t read the previous book (which unless it’s by accident, why wouldn’t you start at the beginning?) however it’s also bad because if it’s been a bit of time between books, it’s nice to have a bit of recapping to help jog your memory. However in my case, it’s been long enough that I really should have reread Beginning Of A Hero.

Again, I really loved the characters. Luke continues to grow and mature and although he can be stubborn and reckless, he’s definitely not as annoying as the first book. It was interesting to read and learn more about Nimby, Fritz and Aedyn. Without spoiling anything, I was surprised at who I started to like more and the flaws that appeared in some of the others. Fizzle was as adorable as ever and I really enjoyed getting to know the new characters.

There were a lot of action scenes and sequences throughout this book involving both sword play and casting of spells. I really enjoyed reading how the characters interacted with one another while fighting and using their strengths together to help defeat their enemies.

There were quite a few twists throughout and I really didn’t see any of them coming! It was quite refreshing to be able to read a book and really go along for the ride without knowing what was coming next.

There was a lot going on in this book, not too much that it felt too busy, just a lot that it kept you absorbed in the story and keeping up really kept you on your toes. Interestingly enough, the book is fairly medium paced so although there is a heck of a lot going on, it doesn’t feel rushed at all and isn’t too slow that it bores you.

I’d also like to point out that in my review of Beginning Of A Hero, I mentioned there were quite a few grammatical errors throughout and the book could have been edited a bit more closely. I’m happy to say that this book was not like that at all. On that note, the author has definitely improved and this book was really well written (not that the first book was terrible, however it was the author’s debut and it’s good to see improvement – it gives credit to the author and the series). I’m really looking forward to reading the next book.

Overall I would definitely recommend this book, and this series. You really need to start with the first book in the  series though, Beginning Of A Hero. Like I said in my previous review, it has all the things a great fantasy should have: strong characters, both good and evil; a quest; mythical creatures; battle scenes; and even some romance. I am really looking forward to continuing the series!